The removal of the largest Israeli settlement outpost of Migron is now delayed after the Israeli Supreme Court granted the government its request to postpone the eviction of the settlers. Built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, the court had initially ruled that the outpost be removed by 1 August. However, the Court granted the delay on Friday 27 July after the government announced that the site where the 50 families from Migron will be relocated will not be ready by then. The Israeli army has also said that the evacuation might lead to a violent settler protests which might be provocative during this holy month of Ramadan. Following these requests, the Court has delayed the removal of the outpost until 21 August.
On another note, Ismail Haniyeh Ė the Hamas leader in Gaza has met with newly elected President Mursi of Egypt in Cairo. The two leaders discussed on Thursday 26 July the Gaza blockade and Egypt-Gaza cooperation to mitigate the socio-economic problems in Gazans. In addition, Egypt has agreed to lax its visa requirement for Palestinians trying to cross over to Egypt particularly for medical attention, study or for travel abroad through Egypt. Mursi has also expressed his governmentís interest in supporting Hama-Fatah reconciliation deal that would result in a transitional unity government.
President Muhamud Abbas has confirmed on 22 July that local elections will proceed as scheduled in the West Bank despite Hamasí suspension of voter registration in the Gaza strip earlier this month. In a meeting the President held with independent political figures he reiterated Fatahís commitment to reconciliation treaties signed with Hamas despite his move to hold elections as scheduled has been deemed by Hamas a ďunilateralĒ act that would damage the reconciliation process.
A day after this announcement, Fatah has questioned Hamasí commitment to democracy in a public statement made by its spokesperson Ahmed Assad on 25 July. The spokesperson said that Hamas refuses to participate in elections unless its electoral victories are granted. Fatah pointed that such actions deny Palestinians the right to choose their leaders.
Elections were not the only news on Wednesday 25 July, as a World Bank report has pointed out that the negative impact of the current PA financial crisis on building a self-sufficient Palestinian State. The World Bank said the high economic growth (7.7%) that was recorded in the past five years was mainly due to millions of dollars of aid money that was injected to the economy. Noting that most of the growth has been in the government services, real-estate and other non-tradable sectors of the economy, the World Bank has pointed out that agriculture and manufacturing have suffered. The World Bank has advised the PA to work towards increasing its trade and adopting ďan outward orientationĒ and strengthening its private sector by ďintegrating into world supply chainsĒ. Israeli occupation and its security and movement restrictions however continue to make such efforts challenging to carry out and impose a great economic burden on the day-to-day lives of Palestinians.
On 24 July the news came out that eight Palestinian villages in Hebron Hills face demolitions as the Israeli Defense Ministry plans to establish a military training site in the area. Ehud Barak, Israeli minister of defense has argued that the land is not used as a full-time residential area by the villagers despite the villagersí statements that their attachment to the land dates back to the 1800s. The court has given the villagers until 2 August to present their appeal. If lost, the villagers would be evicted to Yetta and would only be allowed to come and work their lands on weekends, Jewish holidays, and during the one month break the soldiers take every year.
It seemed a proposal for demolition of Palestinian villages wasnít the only thing the Israeli army was up to this week as 28 Israeli soldiers accompanied 58 Jewish worshippers into Al-Aqsa mosque on Tuesday 23 July. This ďtourĒ was a move most Muslim Palestinians found provocative especially in this holy month of Ramadan.
Two days after the start of Ramadan, the Palestinian prisoner Al-Rekhawi who had persevered through 102 days of hunger strike has ended his strike on 22 July. Al-Rekhawi ended his strike after the Israelís prison service agreed to release him six months earlier than his sentence following his demand for an early release based on health grounds. Al-Rekhawi who is a diabetic and asthmatic will be released on 23 January 2013 where he will then head to his home in Gaza. Gaza also celebrated the release of 159 prisoners on Saturday 21 July as the Ministry of Interior of Gaza released the prisoners to commemorate the commencement of the holy month of Ramadan.